Nov 12 2020

Five Engineering Leaders Share Their Top Career Insights

By Meta Careers
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This post was published before the Facebook company became Meta. For the most recent Meta Careers blog posts, visit our blog homepage.
What does it feel like to step outside of your comfort zone, and how can leaders inspire others by bringing their true selves to work? We recently brought a group of women from Facebook’s Engineering team together to talk about their unique career paths and share leadership insights. Here’s what they said about personal growth, leading with authenticity, and building global products for people in an ever-changing world.

1. Taking chances and making bold choices to grow

Getting outside of your comfort zone might not feel comfortable at first, but trying new things can result in fulfilling career growth and rewarding new opportunities. Even more, fresh experiences can help spark creativity and build resilience.
"Surupa standing in front of colorful posters"
Surupa, Engineering Director on Facebook’s Developer Infrastructure Team, at Facebook HQ in Menlo Park pre-pandemic
“I remember seeing ‘be bold’ posters on the wall in offices years ago,” Surupa B., Engineering Director on Facebook’s Developer Infrastructure Team, reminisces. “They said things like, ‘What would you do if you weren’t afraid?’ Now, I feel fortunate to work in an environment where being bold is actually a company value. It’s near and dear to my heart because I fully believe in tackling big problems and chipping away at them consistently over time to deliver meaningful results. When you look back later, you can clearly see the impact you made and how much you’ve grown.”
"Fiona standing in front of colorful posters"
Fiona, Engineering Director on Facebook Reality Labs, leading teams remotely in Seattle
Fiona F., Engineering Director on Facebook Reality Labs, stepped away from a 12-year focus on developer tooling to work on Marketplace. Echoing Surupa, she says she’s grateful for her experience because it helped her learn and inspired a new path. “It does take a bit of time to ramp up when you get outside of your comfort zone, but then you’ll expand your horizons,” she says.
“You don’t need to check every box before trying something new,” Fiona continues. “One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was from a manager who encouraged me to just try. I remember he asked, ‘What’s the worst thing that will happen?’ and it was an aha moment for me. Don't hold yourself back by waiting to feel fully confident that you can do it. Instead, take the chance and know that no matter what, you’ll gain something positive from the experience.”

2. Leading with authenticity looks different for everyone

Whether a new manager or seasoned executive, strong leaders are empathetic communicators who have the ability to motivate and inspire teams. They demonstrate confidence and integrity by bringing their true selves to work.
"Joelle standing indoors in front of a gray background"
Joelle, Managing Director on the Facebook AI Research team, working at home in Montreal
“It can be a challenge to lead at a company where others might not come from the same background as you, look the same as you do, or act and sound the way you do,” Joelle P., Managing Director on the Facebook AI Research team, acknowledges. “But to embody a leadership style that’s respected and appreciated, we have to be authentic.”
“It took me a little while to find my strengths and style,” Surupa shares. “Over time, I’ve learned that my optimism, ambition, and perseverance are my superpowers. Knowing what your magic is will propel you forward and create a lot of value for the people you work with and lead.”
Barbara M., Engineering Manager on the iOS Developer Experience Team, who recently transitioned from a Software Engineering role, agrees. “My ability to listen has been critical as a leader. I use ‘we’ a lot more than I use ‘I’ now because it’s not just about me anymore—it’s about what’s important to the team. It’s my priority to help them do what they do best so thousands of other engineers can do what they do best. A leader is only one person, but the impact we have on other people is huge. Becoming a manager has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve done at Facebook.”

3. Unique perspectives shape Facebook’s global products

Building technology that’s used and loved by billions of people around the world calls for diverse teams, strong voices, and passionate engineers who help make sure unique perspectives are incorporated into Facebook’s products.
"Barbara standing in front of a dark blue background"
Barbara is the Engineering Manager on the iOS Developer Experience Team, working at home in the Bay Area
“I work on a team that supports thousands of developers, and although many of them have the same concerns, some of them see different issues,” Barbara explains. “For example, there are things that might sound strange to people in one culture, but not in another. To effectively solve customer problems and build the Facebook app for a global audience, we need to hear what people need and listen to different opinions.”
"Aidymar standing in front of a blue background"
Aidymar is the Engineering Director on the Messenger team, working from home in the Bay Area
Along with thinking about how product and engineering decisions will impact people today, Aidymar B., Engineering Director on the Messenger team, looks at the bigger picture—and to the future. “Our work is about thinking ahead. We have to think beyond ourselves and our team,” she notes. “We also say ‘nothing is someone else’s problem’, which means that everyone is encouraged to speak up, demonstrate ownership, and look for solutions.”
“At Facebook, people care deeply about the mission and it’s important for them to know they’re doing the right thing,” Barbara concludes. “I would personally love to see Facebook represent, support, and speak to everyone in the world. I really care about helping us get there, to 100 percent.”
Art at top by Maya Hayuk through the Facebook Artist in Residence Programe

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